Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Truth or Lies and You're in the Movies: fundamentally flawed

I recently found two games that I bought ages ago, and never played.  I unwrapped them and played them.

You're in the Movies

You take part in some minigames using the Xbox Live Vision camera, in a similar way to in EyeToy Play.  The difference s that the camera takes a picture of the background, and then cuts that out when you step back in front of the TV.  Your exact image is then overlaid the playing field.

That's the idea, anyway.  In fact, I found that after a minute or so my arm would start disappearing, then my neck, then bits of my chest.  Even though I was wearing a dark shirt against a white wall.  It also started to lose my movements, to the extent that half way through I had to rescan the background, and from that point on rescan it after each game - even though nothing had changed.

The games weren't as well defined as EyeToy Play, either - it was unclear what the objective was at times, and there were many cases where I was unsure if I was actually doing the right stuff.

The clever bit of the game comes at the end, when it takes the various videos of you doing stuff, and puts them into a movie trailer.  It would have worked better if there were four people playing, since otherwise it just shows up the difference between the green-screened professional shots and the half-there blurry movies of me.  The game is a good idea, but the execution just doesn't work.

Truth or Lies

Truth or Lies is a type of quiz game where the console acts as a lie detector.  You get asked some incredibly banal questions, and you have to tell the truth, by speaking into a microphone.  Of course, this is designed to be played in a party setting, and you're meant to be very embarrassed about the answers you're giving - that's where the fun would come in, seeing where people lied to save their dignity.  At least, it would do if you weren't being asked pointless questions, and if the lie detector actually worked.

I told the game I was a cow.  I told it I had never kissed a girl.  I even told it that I preferred dogs to cats.  In every case, it told me that I was telling the truth - and more emphatically than when I actually did tell the truth.  The only time t told me I was lying was when I said that I was bored.  That was no lie.

The only way I could consistently get it to think I was lying was by screeching into the microphone.  Strangely, when I'm trying to lie, the last thing I'm going to do is to scrunch my vocal chords up to sound like a mouse.

Not only is Truth or Lies even worse from a technology point of view than You're in the Movies, it's also a fundamentally boring game.  Avoid.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Gravitron X: a difficulty mountain

Gravitron X is an Xbox Live Indie Game - costing around 60p, it's developed by a part-time coder who deserves to have a full-time job somewhere.  The game's similar to Thrust, where you must negotiate passages underground, combating gravity and avoiding obstacles.  There are enemies who fire at you and air vents which push you off target.  The main objective of each stage is to destroy the generators and escape back into orbit before the entire planet blows up.  There are stranded scientists to rescue (who repair your shields) and fuel stations.

I spent a good hour playing this tonight.  The control scheme takes a little getting used to - the ship points where you aim the left stick, rather than it just rotating left and right - but this actually affords a much better level of control, letting you pull off 180° turns quickly and aiming with greater precision to shoot back.  I got to the end of level 19 with eight lives, having lost one in the first few levels while I was still learning the controls.

Level 20 was, however, a massive spike in difficulty.  There were small spaces to squeeze into, which rotated around and let you move to another gear-type contraption.  The surface of the planet was covered with enemies, including homing missiles.  It took me all eight lives to complete the level; I was half expecting that to be it, but then level 21 appeared.  I died pretty quickly.

Thoroughly recommended, even without the extra challenge modes and extra map packs.  These are included with the main package. It's a bargain whichever way you look at it.